Practical Preservation and Conservation Strategies for Libraries. By Brian J. Baird, illustrated by Jody Brown. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2018. 137 p. $35.00 softcover (ISBN 978-1-5381-0959-5).

The rapid proliferation of electronic resources (e-resources) in library collections and the increasing use of digitization as a preservation tool has altered the preservation landscape. Despite these changes, the need for libraries to plan their preservation and conservation workflows and processes continues. Baird’s Practical Preservation and Conservation Strategies for Libraries is intended as an overview of methods that can be used by small public and academic libraries where staff, funding, and time is at a premium. The book focuses on print materials, although limited attention is paid in the final two chapters to other types of materials. The book takes a holistic approach to the preservation and conservation cycle. Evaluation and assessment of preservation needs, development of preservation workflows, basic book repairs, disaster planning, and digital preservation are the topics covered in the book’s eleven chapters.

In the first chapter, Baird discusses the impact of e-resources on the preservation landscape. Despite the increased percentage of e-resources as part of library’s collections, Baird argues that most preservation work undertaken by libraries will be with print materials and that the preservation strategies outlined in the book focus on print. Each chapter is intended to build on the last one to provide readers a complete picture of each component involved. The first step is to evaluate your institution’s preservation needs. Chapter 2 addresses the environmental considerations. Data on the optimum conditions for printed matter is shared. Different methods to evaluate temperature, humidity, and other environmental considerations that affect the life and longevity of a book are also discussed.

Usage of print materials is another element to be analyzed. Surveys are a useful method of collecting and evaluating information on the books in your collection, how they are bound, and how frequently they circulate to see what patterns occur. Random samples can be taken from the stacks or items set aside for repair. Recording and storing the information surveyed facilitates analysis of the data and enables it to be used for comparison in later surveys. Baird provides a sample survey that might be suitable for small academic libraries and discusses how to analyze survey results. The survey results will reveal information on how various book bindings endure wear and tear. In chapter 4, Baird stresses the need to integrate preservation strategies into collection development. Information on what book bindings fare best can be used when selecting new materials for purchase. Baird also walks readers through the steps involved in book training, and on affixing dust-jacket protectors and paperback stiffeners. Illustrations accompany his directions.

Chapter 5 briefly notes some of the preservation resources available to libraries once they have evaluated their needs and are ready to research how to meet those needs. Chapter 6 covers library binding. Baird suggests how to select a commercial bindery, how to select appropriate materials to be bound, and reviews different binding options. He discusses cooperative agreements between institutions and how they may be an advantageous way for libraries to pool their limited resources. In-house book repair is another option, especially if staff time and interest allows. Baird provides step-by-step instructions (with accompanying illustrations) on basic paper mending and spine repair techniques in chapter 7. In chapter 8, Baird discusses the means of making preservation treatment decisions, including using the Balanced Scorecard method developed by Kaplan and Norton. The number of preservation decisions that need to be made can be alleviated by training staff and patrons on the proper care of books. In chapter 9, Baird opines that incorporating guidelines on handling materials into workflows will enable materials to circulate longer and provides a bulleted list of guidelines to be used.

An integral part of preservation and conservation is being prepared for when disasters strike. All libraries should have a disaster plan at the ready. Many libraries’ plans are accessible and can be consulted when drawing up your own. Baird touches on the effects of fire, smoke, and water damage on various types of library materials. While these are the primary things to consider when undertaking disaster planning, bedbugs and other kinds of insect damage are also worth factoring in, although insect-related emergencies are not discussed. Baird concludes by discussing how digital preservation issues differ from traditional preservation methods and describes how digitization can be a powerful tool for preservation. Metadata and storage and migration issues involved in digitization are briefly discussed. More information on the topic would have been a nice feature, though it may be beyond the scope of the book.

Overall, this concise and well-written book serves as a practical guide suitable for both public and academic libraries interested in reviewing or creating their preservation and conservation strategies. The step-by-step illustrated instructions of several basic repair methods are a nice feature and ensure that the book will be consulted regularly by libraries undertaking their own repairs. Baird succeeds in providing a comprehensive overview of preservation and conservation techniques and delivers a comprehensive introduction and overview to the topic.—Sharon E. Reidt (sreidt@somd.lib.md.us), Southern Maryland Regional Library Association


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